It’s a brewtiful day

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It’s a brewtiful day

SCG Chicago has wrapped up and given us a look at a couple really interesting brews, in this second installment of the “Day’s Unbrewing series,” I’m going to discuss these new archetypes, talk about what makes them tick, and what I do and don’t like about the builds.

It’s a great time to be a standard player. Origins has finally arrived onto the tournament scene, and the deckbuilders at SCG Chicago did not dissapoint in their utilization of these new cards in interesting and innovative ways.

The Brews of Magic Origins

First things first, I have not said a word about this card to anyone, and I pride myself on being able to anticipate powerful cards in spoilers. I saw this one but did not give it the credence it deserved. Now I know that it’s without a doubt one of the best creatures to come out of Origins.

That leads me to kick it off with the most successful of the brews featured at the tournament.

UW Thopter Control

Jeff Hoogland successfully piloted this innovative new control deck to top 8, utilizing the power of Elspeth, Dig Through Time, and Thopter Spy Network to grind card advantage and control his opponents board. I expect to see more of these artifact control variants, and from a design perspective I really enjoy the themed control decks that we’ve had this standard season (Dragons and Artifacts).

UW Thopter Control by Jeff Hoogland

Creatures

4x Hangarback Walker

Noncreature spells

3x Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1x Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
2x Thopter Spy Network
3x Artificer’s Epiphany
3x Clash of Wills
4x Dig Through Time
1x Disdainful Stroke
4x Dissolve
1x Last Breath
2x Valorous Stance
3x End Hostilities
2x Swift Reckoning

Lands

3x Darksteel Citadel
6x Island
2x Plains
4x Flooded Strand
2x Mystic Monastery
1x Polluted Delta
1x Radiant Fountain
4x Temple of Enlightenment
4x Tranquil Cove

Sideboard

1x Perilous Vault
1x Hidden Dragonslayer
2x Stratus Dancer
1x Disdainful Stroke
1x Fated Retribution
3x Last Breath
2x Negate
1x Raise the Alarm
2x Valorous Stance

This deck takes advantage of low downside artifact cards like Hangarback Walker and Darksteel Citadel to enable Artificer’s Epiphany and Thopter Spy Network. Obviously, low downside is really underselling the power of Hangarback Walker, which can also act as a finisher and mana sink. After a little testing, I really love this card.

I think one of the biggest selling points of this deck is the power of Elspeth. In fact, looking at the decklist, Elpseth and End Hostilities are really the only reasons to go white. I say this because all that white removal: namely Valorous Stance, Swift Reckoning, and Last Breath, are all really kind of sketchy and conditional.

There is a lot of incentive to want to play Elspeth in this meta, however, as there are a lot of decks that just get stopped cold by her +1. I think this was a really good meta call on Jeff’s part: Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and End Hostilities are some of the best cards to be playing against a meta of Gr Devotion.

But whenever I watch UW control, I miss Hero’s Downfall more than I care to admit. The ability to answers creatures (and even more importantly, planeswalkers) cleanly once they’ve resolved just makes things so much easier. And there’s nothing about the artifact package that necessitates it be in white.

So here’s a UB version.

UB Thopter Control by Billy Pedlow

Creatures

4x Hangarback Walker

Noncreatures

2x Thopter Spy Network
3x Artificer’s Epiphany
2x Bile Blight
2x Clash of Wills
4x Dig Through Time
4x Dissolve
4x Hero’s Downfall
2x Crux of Fate
2x Languish
1x Thoughtseize
2x Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
1x Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Lands

3x Darksteel Citadel
4x Dismal Backwater
5x Island
2x Opulent Palace
4x Polluted Delta
4x Swamp
4x Temple of Deceit
1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Sideboard

1x Perilous Vault
3x Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1x Bile Blight
1x Disdainful Stroke
1x Negate
2x Ashiok Nightmare Weaver
2x Drown in Sorrow
1x Languish
3x Thoughtseize

This is by no means a tuned list, just a starting point. The singleton mainboard Thoughtseize is a personal eccentricity of mine, but I’d love to find room for a couple more.

I really like Jace out of the sideboard, you can bring it in in pretty much any matchup and he’ll do some work. I’ve been really impressed with this card, although I was initially very skeptical.

Access to Bile Blight is another thing that really drew me to wanting to run black. The comparison to Last Breath is laughable.

That being said, there’s no reason to ruin a good thing, and Jeff’s list has certainly proven itself after this weekend.

Mono White Devotion

Jordan Haukereid managed to pilot a strategy that not many saw coming, mono white devotion, to a 14th place finish at SCG Chicago. The deck used white symbols and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to drop lots of mana into Master of the Unseen and Heliod, God of the Sun.

Unlike Green Devotion decks, which play a somewhat unfair game of: ramp incredibly fast into Dragonlord Atarka or Hornet Queen, the Nykthos-mana dump plan is only a side strategy to what is otherwise a rather typical midrange beatdown deck.

Mono White Devotion by Jordan Haukereid

Creatures

4x Soldier of the Pantheon
1x Kytheon, Hero of Iroas
4x Knight of the White Orchid
3x Anafenza Kin-Tree Spirit
2x Hidden Dragonslayer
3x Brimaz, King of Oreskos
2x Heliod God of the Sun
3x Wingmate Roc

Noncreatures

2x Mastery of the Unseen
4x Valorous Stance
2x Spear of Heliod
1x Ajani Steadfast

Lands

20x Plains
2x Foundry of the Consuls
3x Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Sideboard

2x Banishing Light
2x Arashin Cleric
2x Celestial Flare
2x Secure the Wastes
3x Surge of Righteousness
2x Elspeth Sun’s Champion
2x Tragic Arrogance

Like I said, this deck’s primary gameplan is a very fair beatdown plan, curving out into aggressive creatures to pressure the opponents life-total. However, its also got a powerful back up plan via the devotion route. This deck has a lot of built in synergies. For example, it can pump mana into Mastery  and trigger Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit with each activation.

One of the things I find most surprising is the inclusion of 4-of Valorous Stance. While the spell is versatile, it can also often be ineffectual. I expected decks like this to begin to take advantage of Swift Reckoning, however with the low amount of instants and sorceries featured here, this is likely because its just a sorcery in this deck.

I expect to see a lot more of this deck going forward as it features a bunch of powerful cards and good synergies, the biggest barrier to this deck in my opinion is that this deck folds to Languish pretty badly. Best case scenario you have a Mastery or Heliod around post Languish and you can rebuild, but even then, without the pips, that rebuilding is going to be a slow process.

This deck reminds me a lot of the BW Catseize deck that I rocked last season, especially the updated version that I came up with. The BW deck foregoes the acceleration plan for a more typical midrange plan, with some build in resistance to Languish via Mardu Strike Leader.

BW Catseize by Billy Pedlow

Creatures

4x Consul’s Lieutenant
4x Brimaz, King of Oreskos
4x Mardu Strike Leader
4x Archangel of Tithes
3x Wingmate Roc

Noncreatures

4x Hero’s Downfall
3x Secure the Wastes
4x Thoughtseize
2x Swift Reckoning
3x Sorin, Solemn Visitor

Lands

8x Plains
4x Scoured Barrens
4x Temple of Silence
4x Caves of Kolios
1x Mana Confluence
3x Swamp
1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Sideboard

2x Valorous Stance
2x Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
2x Arashin Cleric
2x Drown in Sorrow
3x Duress
2x End Hostilities
2x Read the Bones

This is the updated version of the Catseize deck, and I think Archangel of Tithes is a fantastic Languish surviving upgrade for the deck. Other than that, the deck is on the same basic gameplan, one for one your opponents, apply pressure, grind out advantage via your creatures.

The reason I included Consul’s Lieutenant in place of the Knight, is I feel in this kind of build consistency is key. I’d rather have a consistent 2 power first striker who can grow and anthem the team, thus putting out a lot more damage, than ramp with qualifications. In the devotion shell the ramp is much more synergistic with the game plan.

Priest of the Blood Rite is one card I have yet to test that might fit in this shell as a replacement for Wingmate Roc. Making the deck more Languish proof is his biggest plus, and he puts down even more power than Wingmate, but races much worse.’

Five Color Rally

The Five Color Rally deck only ended up in 34th place, but it was looked to have broken the format day one. The deck looks to fill up the grayeyard really fast, then casts a Rally the Ancestors for x=3. This will bring back tons of creatures, namely a Nantuko Husk and a Mogis’s Marauders. This will give the Nantuko Husk haste and intimidate, then the player can sac their board to make the Husk swing for lethal.

Five Color Rally by Matthew Tickal

Creatures

4x Elvish Mystic
4x Satyr Wayfinder
3x Sylvan Caryatid
3x Grim Haruspex
2x Mogis’s Marauders
4x Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
4x Nantuko Husk
1x Liliana, Heretical Healer
3x Deathmist Raptor
2x Den Protector

Noncreatures

2x Chord of Calling
4x Rally the Ancestors
4x Gather the Pack

Lands

2x Forest
1x Plains
1x Frontier Bivouac
4x Mana Confluence
1x Mystic Monastery
3x Opulent Palace
2x Sandsteppe Citadel
3x Windswept Heath
2x Yavimaya Coast
1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Sideboard

4x Cleric of the Forward Order
1x Den Protect
1x Hidden Dragonslayer
1x Reclamation Sage
1x Stratus Dancer
2x Hero’s Downfall
2x Kolaghan’s Command
3x Thoughtseize

Watching this deck play is a real trip. The whole deck is just so absolutely absurd. This is not a deck for inexperienced players given how many triggers and strange lines of play you have to go through to pilot it well.

The biggest problem I see with this list is that it struggles against control decks. They’re simply never going to let you resolve a Rally the Ancestors, and the creatures are all relatively weak placeholders who are all pretty lackluster at putting pressure on the board.

Against Midrange strategies this kind of deck seems extremely powerful, however.

I can’t really give you my own take on this build, since it has so many moving parts I really have no idea what I’d do with it. I will say, however, that I am extremely skeptical that 20 lands is enough in a deck that NEEDS to cast a five mana spell to win. Satyr Wayfinder and Sylvan Caryatid do their best to make this happen, but even then, it’s probably just not enough. I can’t know without a solid amount of testing however, so I’d love to hear what you guys think about the manabase (which is pretty out there).

Lastly, we have:

UG Turbo Fog

James Newman’s UG turbo fog deck wasn’t able to make day 2, but boy was it fun to watch!

UG Turbo Fog by James Newman

Noncreatures

2x Orb’s of Warding
4x Dictate of Kruphix
4x Monastery Siege
4x Sphinx’s Tutelage
3x Aetherspouts
4x Defend the Hearth
3x Negate
4x Winds of Qal Sisma
1x Alhammarret’s Archive
4x Day’s Undoing
4x Treasure Cruise

Lands

4x Forest
8x Island
4x Radiant Fountain
4x Temple of Mystery
4x Thornwood Falls

Sideboard

1x Grindclock
3x Icefall Regent
1x Pearl Lake Ancient
1x Aetherspouts
2x Clash of Wills
2x Disdainful Stroke
1x Dissolve
1x Dragonlord’s Prerogative
1x Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
2x Talent of the Telepath

If you didn’t get to see this deck play, go back and watch the matches. It was a blast.

That being said, there are a lot of really sketchy choices here that I don’t like. The Orbs and the Archive are the first that come to mind. The Orbs don’t really prevent enough damage, and I’m not interested in paying five to protect myself from Thoughtseize or burn, and the Archive is far too slow.

Day’s Undoing is a really strange nonbo with this deck. Due to it’s “end the turn” clause you don’t get any tutelage triggers off of the cards you draw from it AND it resets all the milling work you’ve done. BUT, sometimes the decks run out of Fogs so the Undoings helps the deck reset and get back to work. That being said, I’d rather just be able to grab more fogs.

So here’s my version of the list:

UG Fog by Billy Pedlow

Noncreatures

4x Monastery Seige
4x Dictate of Kruphix
4x Sphinx’s Tutelage
4x Aetherspouts
4x Defend the Hearth
4x Winds of Qal Sisma
4x Treasure Cruise
2x Dig Through Time
1x Negate
3x Swan Song
2x Whelming Wave

Lands

4x Forest
8x Island
4x Temple of Mystery
4x Thornwood Falls
1x Yavimaya Coast
3x Radiant Fountain

Sideboard

3x Negate
1x Swan Song
3x Kiora, the Crashing Wave
2x Day’s Undoing
2x Displacement Wave
2x Talent of the Telepath
2x Disdainful Stroke

I don’t really like the Day’s Undoing reset thing. I understand WHY it’s there, so he can reset with more enchantments on the field and mill faster the second time around. But personally, I’d rather just have more fog effects and ways to slow the game down, so that I can survive and mill them out without resetting. It’s possible that this strategy just doesn’t work without Day’s Undoing and I’ve only tested this list a little, but it seems to function well.

The big innovation I’m proud of in this list is Swan Song, which I see as majorly powerful in a list that nearly ignores creature combat. Whelming Wave is a great pseudo-fog and will often Timewalk your opponent in this list, as they’ll have to replay their creatures which you really don’t care about, setting them back a turn.

The big problem with Swan Song, however, is that the list suddenly becomes a lot more vulnerable to Ugin pre-board. I don’t think this is a deal breaker as most decks only run one, and we can match their one Ugin with one Negate, as well as cross our fingers and hope it gets milled. Not ideal, but I think it’s worth it to run a one mana counterspell.

Anyway, it’s clear that Origins is going to have a big impact in the meta, and that there are certainly going to be new archetypes enabled by what the set adds to the Standard card pool.

I look forward to what seems like a very balanced standard, and to seeing these new archetypes blossom.



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